Felt lined Yurts - hand made in Mongolia - in stock in the Wye Valley
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A yurt, or a Ger as it is known in Mongolia (yurt is a Russian word meaning shanty, so not considered polite!) is a domed home made up of a wooden frame formed by a number of joined wooden lattice walls with a roof made of a central crown with roof poles radiating out and sitting on the top of the walls. The frame is covered in fabric or skins.
Historical evidence suggests that yurts have been used by nomadic people for over 2000 years - the design is superb - portable, yet strong enough to withstand Siberian winds and insulated against the most extreme weather - Mongolia has the widest temperature range in the world - from a blistering +45°C to a biting -55°C - the felt linings insulate the yurt very effectively and the shape deflects the fierce winds around and over the yurt.
Mongolian, Kyrgyzstan.......or made in the UK?
A Mongolian Yurt is a more angular shape than a Kyrgyzstan one - it has straight roof poles which sit in the crossed slats at the top of the lattice walls. The Kyrgyzstan shape is taller with a more steeply pitched roof and the roof poles are bent at the end meeting the wall - this design has a much smaller crown wheel and does not require crown support poles leaving an unobstructed floor area - but not as much light - it really is a matter of personal preference as both shapes are pleasing to the eye.
UK made yurts are copies of these shapes - and can be made from either steam bent ash or willow which creates a rustic look, or from planed wood which gives a crisper more substantial look. UK yurts tend to use about a 1/3rd of the amount of wood - so they are lighter and have larger spaces between the roof poles and lattice - this can be an advantage if you are frequently transporting your yurt but may be less advantageous if you are siting it in a very windy location. Generally, a UK cover is made from a single skin of canvas. It is possible to have a felt lining made but this is usually an 'extra' and can be very expensive. Mongolian yurts have 3 layers - the felt, then a heavy duty canvas and finally a cotton decorative cover.
We know several UK yurt websites state that Mongolian yurts are poor quality and unsuitable for our climate - well of course some are - but the same can equally be said for some UK made yurts - we think that the well made versions of both are equally valid - it's a bit like trying to compare a sports car and a range rover - there is nothing wrong with either - what you need to do is pick the one you like for the job you have to do!
Below is a summary of what we feel are the main advantages and disadvantages of a Mongolian and a UK made yurt. There are of course other options - in America, yurts often have aluminium walls and a wire tension band - I don't like them but that's just my personal taste - they could be perfect for you.
Very heavy (a 19'6" weighs around half a tonne) so ideal for permanent or semi permanent sitings - especially in windy locations. Traditional decorative painted woodwork. Large crown lets lots of light in. The layers of fabric can become saturated at the base if the location is not sufficiently ventilated. Probably the biggest advantages are the weight and the felt lining - this insulates warmth in and heat out, making this a good year round option and has the added advantage of sound proofing. The packed down yurt takes a lot of storage and transporting space (eg a 19'6" yurt would take 10' x 6' trailer to transport it). The decorative cover is cotton so does not tolerate shade and damp well. The two crown supports limit the amount of useable space which can be an issue in the smaller yurts. The roof poles are too close together to allow a flue to be pushed through so the stove has to be sited in the centre (but given the crown support posts this is the most practical place anyway). The traditionally painted woodwork offers a highly decorative space. A wooden door is standard - with windows in the sides for extra light. A Mongolian yurt must be sited on a raised wooden deck - made of planks with gaps between as there must be a free flow of air to allow the yurt to 'breathe'. Mongolian yurts are bulky and consideration should be given to both transport and storage space.
A much lighter option - with far less roof poles and only one layer of canvas, this is helpful if it is being moved frequently. It takes far less storage and can be put up and taken down more quickly. However, they often need guy ropes to secure them down. A 16' UK yurt offers more useable floor space because of the lack of crown supports and the higher walls. Although the smaller crown lets in less light, the single layer of white canvas allows far more borrowed light in. In addition because the lattice slats are further apart and the fabric is a single skin, it is possible to include windows in the yurt. Felt lining is not standard and tends to be very expensive as an optional extra. A wooden door is often an optional extra. The stove can be sited at the side of the yurt which can be better if you want a clear central floor space.